Thursday, March 27, 2008
Dallas SWAT delivers birthday surprise to Garland third grader
"SWAT filed the necessary paperwork required to call on him at school. They waited for Roger to arrive. Surveillance confirmed his location at Pearson Elementary School..."
When nine-year-old Roger Zapata rolled out of bed on Friday, March 7th, he had no idea that the Dallas Police Department’s SWAT team had already completed a background check and confirmed stories about the youngster from corroborating witnesses.
SWAT filed the necessary paperwork required to call on him at school. They waited for Roger to arrive. Surveillance confirmed his location at Pearson Elementary School.
Then, shortly before 11:45 a.m. on March 7 – armed with cupcakes and treats – the Dallas SWAT team descended onto the campus in Rowlett and made Roger’s ninth birthday an unforgettable occasion.
And it would have been difficult to find a boy more deserving of some heartfelt wishes on his special day.
Last December, Roger was diagnosed with lymphoblastic leukemia after Beverly Cox – his school nurse at Pearson – sent the third grader and his mother to the Children’s Medical Center ER. Roger was immediately checked into the hospital and began chemotherapy three days later.
It was during a visit at Children’s that Roger met Paul Junger of Dallas SWAT. Junger promised Roger some autographs from members of the squad that have starred for two seasons in A&E’s self-titled reality show, Dallas SWAT.
“One of our guys met Roger in the hospital and said we’d sign a poster and get it to him,” explained Christian D’Alesandro, a senior corporal with Dallas SWAT. “Then we learned that today is his birthday so we decided to come out and spend some time with him.”
Roger and his third grade classmates at the Garland ISD elementary school campus were treated to a first-hand tour of SWAT’s command truck and up-close looks at the hardware used by the highly trained personnel.
After dressing him in their assault gear – complete with bulletproof vest, helmet and ballistic shield – the SWAT team posed with Roger in front of the truck. Then, when all was ready, Senior SWAT command gave the “Go!” signal and SWAT members stormed the cafeteria to eat with the third graders, Roger and his family.
“He’s getting a little tired but it’s been a good day,” Cox said. “Roger knew that something might happen for his birthday but I don’t think he ever expected 10-to-12 guys to come out here like this. It has been wonderful and even better is that his family got to be here with him. I don’t think any of them will ever forget this.”
Soure: City of Garland